Organizers and Production Partners
Adrienne Rooney is a Ph.D. Candidate in Art History at Rice University. She studies twentieth-century art and (visual) culture in the Americas, with a focus on the Circum-Caribbean. Her dissertation—for the time being titled "Against Cultural Dependency: Aesthetics and Economics in the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta), 1966-1981" and to be completed in Spring 2023—is the first book-length academic study of Carifesta, an initiative that has embodied Caribbean integration more fully than political or economic efforts. Her dissertation attends to the conceptualization of the monumental, multilingual, ongoing festival and the (visual) culture foregrounded in its first four iterations in Guyana, Jamaica, Cuba, and Barbados. With the support of extensive archival research and contemporaneous theories by, among others, Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming, and Sylvia Wynter, it weaves a story of the festival—a meeting place for artists from Brazil to Curaçao, from Saint Lucia to Suriname, from Venezuela to Haiti—in the heady, long 1970s.
She has shared her work in a variety of ways, including through presentations at the annual conferences of the Caribbean Studies Association (CSA) and College Art Association (CAA), talks at the Paul Mellon Centre, the Tate, and Oxford University, and published criticism and scholarship in caa.reviews and the Journal of African American Studies, among others. In October, she will present at the conference "Beyond Boundaries: Seeing Art History from the Caribbean" at The Clark.
She is part of the Mark Claster Mamolen Dissertation Workshop Class of 2022, administered by the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University. She is the recipient of the Donald C. Locke Award at Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University (2022). She is also currently a resident of “Atlantic Worlds: Visual Cultures of Colonialism, Slavery, and Racism” a two-year remote residency program by the journal British Art Studies and the Terra Foundation for American Art (2021-2023). She was a Junior Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre, London (2019-2020), and her work has also received support from the Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship, the Rose Library Fellowship, the Brown Foundation, and Rice's Department of Art History.
Adrienne has taught classes at Rice University and the University of Houston - Clear Lake’s Academics for Offenders Program. She is Co-organizer, with Dr. Fabiola López-Durán, of the Racial Geography Project, an initiative of the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice. Prior to Rice, she was a curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2012–2015), where she worked on the essay ”Defining American” in Whitney Museum of American Art: Handbook of the Collection (2015) and exhibitions including Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight (2016-17), America Is Hard to See (2015), and Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective (2012-2013). She also conducted research for and programmed at Danspace Project (2012 and 2016). She was a Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholarship recipient in 2015–2016 and received her B.A. in art history from Barnard College (2012) and MA from Rice University (2019).
Ramaesh J. Bhagirat-Rivera, Ph.D.
Ramaesh J. Bhagirat-Rivera is a Caribbean historian and Assistant Professor of Critical Mixed Race Studies in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. His research focuses on the intersection of Asian and African diasporas in the Americas, race and racism, transnationalism, and cultural history. He is completing his book manuscript – Inventing Indigeneity: Performing Race and Nation in the Modern Caribbean, c. 1950-1980 – which analyzes how contested festivals were used to create national cohesion in racially divided Caribbean countries. His manuscript argues that the multiracial societies of Guyana and Trinidad looked to each other to construct shared visions of nationhood by inventing indigeneity through festival culture.
Stemming from this monograph, he has published an article on Carifesta – “Between Pan-Africanism and a Multiracial Nation: Race, Regionalism, and Guyanese Nation-Building Through the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA), 1972.” In analyzing a festival that was embraced as “emancipation day come true” by Afro-Caribbean artists and intellectuals, this article shows the contested ways in which Caribbean people utilized ideals of Pan-Africanism to facilitate cultural exchange between Guyanese, Jamaicans, Haitians, Cubans, Surinamese, and others in the region. Simultaneously, it shows how festivals responded to and were shaped by multiracial realities of the Caribbean, specifically regarding Indo-Caribbean peoples in the region.
Bhagirat-Rivera received his Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Comparative American Studies, Africana Studies, and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College. His research has been supported by Fulbright IIE and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others. He has taught at Boston College, Kenyon College, and the University of Chicago.
Vibert C. Cambridge, A.A., Ph.D.
Vibert Compton Cambridge (M.A., Communication and Development Studies, Ohio University, 1988; Ph.D., Mass Communication, Ohio University, 1989) is professor emeritus in the School of Media Arts and Studies, Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University. He was awarded Guyana’s Golden Arrow of Achievement (A.A.) for his contributions to the study of Guyana’s social and cultural history. In 2013, he received the Award for Excellence in Global Engagement from Ohio University.
Dr. Cambridge has dedicated his work and academic research to the study of Guyanese cultural expressions that emerged from the encounters, interactions, and exchanges among its root cultures over the past 15,000 years, especially the period since Europe’s 15th century encounter with the Caribbean and South America. This orientation stemmed from his participation in the field research conducted by Jarai Productions (Peter Kempadoo and Marc Matthews) on Guyanese folk culture for the radio series Our Kind of Folk in the months leading up to Carifesta ’72.
Dr. Cambridge’s teaching, research, and scholarship have focused on the intersection of culture, mass communication, and social change in the post-colonial Caribbean and the Global South. His Musical Life in Guyana: History and Politics of Control, the first in-depth study of Guyanese musical life, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in June 2015 as part of its Caribbean Studies Series. Immigration, Diversity, and Broadcasting in the United States, 1990–2001 was published by the Ohio University Press in January 2005.
Dr. Cambridge’s current research and practice focus on decolonization in the post-independence Caribbean, the social and cultural history of “sweet drinks” in Guyana, cultural preservation through diaspora engagement, and citizen engagement in the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the context of Guyana’s emerging oil- and gas-fueled economy.
Excuse Me, May I Offer Some Interpretations (WACACRO, Toronto, 1975), Dr. Cambridge’s collection of poems, continued the exploration of the life of post-World War II West Indian immigrants launched by Edward Kamau Braithwaite in his Rites of Passage (ARGO, UK, ca. 1967). Dr. Cambridge’s poems have been anthologized in Canada in Us Now (Harold Head, editor, 1976) and Guyanese Writing 1966–1976 (A. J. Seymour, editor, 1976).
Dr. Cambridge has organized many events, such as conferences, symposiums, colloquia, and other initiatives aimed at making the knowledge of the Guyanese experience, especially the nation’s cultural commonalities, accessible to all citizens. These events include:
Inaugural Guyana Folk Festival (Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, Guyana, 1983)
International Conference to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Anglophone Caribbean (Guyana Commemoration Commission, Guyana, 1984)
Second International Conference on Entertainment-Education (Communication and Development Studies, Ohio University, Athens, OH, 1995)
“Celebrating Our Musical Heritage” (Guyana Cultural Association of New York symposium, New York, 2003)
“Celebrating Mac: Folk, Identity, and National Cohesiveness” (Guyana Cultural Association of New York symposium, Guyana, 2008)
“Masquerade Lives” (Guyana Cultural Association of New York symposium, Guyana, 2012)
“Guyana at 50: Understanding Our Independence Journey” (50th Anniversary of Independence Committee, Guyana, 2016)
From 2012 to 2022, Dr. Cambridge served as president of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.
Ms. Kezia Bacchus, an Academic Librarian at the University of Guyana Library, is currently the Acting Head of the Technical Services Division. She holds a Master of Science in Information and Library Studies from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen Scotland. She has worked in the Library field for over seven years and is passionate about digitization and preservation of special collections.
Ms. Bacchus is also an Organiser of the OneHe-Mindsets based in Scotland. 'Mindsets’ aims to engage educators, students, librarians, learning/teaching support professionals and policy-makers in critical discussions and creative collaboration relating to students’ lifelong development of information, as well as digital and media literacy.
Mr. Ryan Cummings, ICT Technician, has been working at the University of Guyana for the past eleven (11) years. He’s a CompTIA A+ and Google Certified IT Professional, with over 20 years' experience and has a deep working knowledge and background in Designing & Managing Networks, Website & Database Development & Design.
In 2018, he received a certificate in Digitization Principles from the Florida International University. Coupled with his skillsets and passion for the field, Mr. Cummings is a valuable member of the University of Guyana’s Library Team.
Mrs. Gwyneth George, AA, University Librarian of the University of Guyana Library, has worked at that institution for the past twenty-six (26) years after working at the National Library, Guyana, for nineteen (19) years. She has also lectured on Guyanese History at the University of Guyana for three (3) years on a part-time basis. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (Hons.) in Library Science from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, where she won the Faculty Prize for year 1. She also obtained a Master’s degree in Guyanese and West Indian history from the University of Guyana and was also awarded a Certificate of Library Studies from a University of Guyana/UNESCO collaborative certificate programme. Other Awards received were the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Fellowship and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) Scholarship.
Published works include “The impact of modern information technology in the Caribbean : exploring the challenges for the Technical Services Division’ IN Caribbean Libraries in the 21st century : changes, challenges and choices (launched at an ACURIL Conference) and “The Schomburgk bibliography and Schomburgk Literature” IN Essays in honour of an explorer and natural scientist. She was also a frequent contributor to the “History Today Series” in the Stabroek News of Guyana and has made several presentations to local and regional conferences and workshops. She has served on a number of Boards in the Ministry of Culture and other institutions in various capacities and is currently serving on the Advisory Board of the National Library of Guyana. At the National Library of Guyana, she has worked with several literacy programmes which emphasize reading, literacy and numeracy.
In May 2017, she was awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement (AA) by his Excellency President David Granger on behalf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Orpheao Griffith is a staff member of the University of Guyana who works at the Faculty of Social Sciences within the Centre for Communication Studies as the Studios Manager. He is an alumnus of the Centre for Communication Studies.
Ms. Syndrene Harris has worked in the University of Guyana Library for over thirty-five years. She is currently the Acting Head of the Caribbean Research Library and is responsible for the collection and curation of Guyanese and Caribbean Materials for posterity.
Ms. Harris was involved in the preparation of listing and bibliographies for the Guyana Prize for Literature, the Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival, CARIFESTA among others. She was also a contributor to the published works ‘50 creative Icons of Guyana’ for the Golden Jubilee of Independence 1966-2016 and the ‘National Bibliography of Guyana’ commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, (2016). Ms. Harris was awarded a certificate in Digitization Principles from the Florida International University.
Over the years of acting as the Head of the Caribbean Research Library, she has developed in-depth knowledge of literature and historical documentation related to the history of Guyana.
Mrs. McRae works as the Administrative Assistant with the University of Guyana’s Centre for Communication Studies Masters Programme. Although employed in 2013 as a Clerk/Typist she quickly filled the role of Secretary with the CCS. As an almost decade-long CCS Staff, Sasha has aided students, supported staff, served three directors, worked on additional departmental projects and has managed the department, first as the only secretary and as a member of a growing department support team.
Sasha is young but pushes herself to work on data gathering for both qualitative and quantitative research, liaises with stakeholders (internal and external) when managing CCS’ fund-raising projects, and she manages zoom meetings and webinars, which she easily transitioned into during the pandemic. She does all of this whilst working alongside the Faculty’s larger support team as a livechat agent, continually serving the students.
When she graduates she plans on using her Degree in Public Management to improve her work experience through customer service, leadership and public speaking. Sasha is happy to work alongside the dynamic planning committee of Carifesta at 50 Symposium.
Ms. Carol Parris has worked in the University of Guyana Library for over thirty-two years. She graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Management) and a BSc. Soc. Sci. ( Public Management).
Ms. Parris is currently the Acting Head of the Learning Resource Centre where some of her main responsibilities are to archive University and national events of importance to the University of Guyana and to provide support for audiovisual teaching methods in all faculties and departments. She was also the Acting Head of the Readers’ Services Division where one of her main tasks was to disseminate information through the media of library exhibitions and displays.
She is the recipient of a UNESCO Award for an attachment to the University of the West Indies conduct research on the Virtual Health Library in Guyana and an Award from the Research & Publication Committee of the University of Guyana to undertake a Research on the Evaluation of the Audiovisual Service of the University of Guyana.
As acting Head of the Learning Resource Centre, she has gained much knowledge and experience in the effective use of audiovisual resources for teaching and learning.
Mrs. Nelsonia Persaud-Budhram is trained in Communications and International Relations. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Guyana as well as a post graduate Diploma and Master's Degree from the University of the West Indies. She was among the first batch of CARPIMS scholars in 2012.
She has served for 3 years as the Director of the Centre for Communication Studies, University of Guyana and has taught for 10 years at the University in research and other areas. She also served as the President and Campus advisor for the UG Lions, as the PRO for the Queen's College Old Students Association and currently as the Secretary for the UG Alumni Association-Georgetown Chapter. She also enjoys working as the Social Manager of art collective group "KAYAP" and is the co-founder of the Silent Walls Mural project as well as a volunteer with "Seawalls & Beyond '', a local environmental activist group.